The Proper Study of Mankind

The Proper Study of Mankind

The Proper Study of Mankind

The Proper Study of Mankind

Excerpt

When this book was first undertaken, shortly after the second world war, it seemed a rather daring project, and I hesitated a long time before starting it. It still seems daring, and in many ways it has been my hardest assignment.

My lifelong interest in social science had prepared me to some extent, but my specialty had been economics rather than the behavior sciences. As a professional accountant -- my first occupation after leaving college -- I had to learn to survey a new situation thoroughly in a short time, and be responsible for the results. Journalists and accountants have that in common.

A group of social scientists approached me with tales of a mine of fresh material accumulated during the war, and asked me to investigate it. Fresh material was much needed just then, for the postwar problems, especially atomic problems, were on everyone's mind. The warnings and appeals of the atomic physicists had put these problems squarely up to social scientists. But were the scientists capable of meeting them? There was plenty of intellectual virtuosity in physics, but where was its equivalent in the study of human relations?

I dropped everything else and began the exploration. I had some expert guides, especially Donald Young of the Social Science Research Council, and Charles Dollard of the Carnegie Corporation, and through them the help of many scholars. They gave me every assistance (though the dealings with the publisher were my responsibility) and I leaned heavily on them for advice and contacts.

I visited research projects, laboratories, government agencies . . .

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